Apple settles EU probe over tap-and-pay tech, will now allow third-party wallets access


In a significant development for the mobile payment industry, Apple Inc. will now allow third-party mobile wallet and payment service providers access to the contactless payment function on its iOS operating system.

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This decision comes after a prolonged investigation by the European Commission into Apple’s business practices regarding its Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, made the announcement on Thursday, highlighting the implications of this change for competition and consumer choice.

From now on, competitors will be able to effectively compete with Apple Pay for mobile payments with the iPhone in shops. So consumers will have a wider range of safe and innovative mobile wallets to choose from.

EU’s preliminary findings on Apple’s dominant position

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The European Commission’s investigation concluded that Apple had been abusing its dominant market position by restricting access to the NFC input on iOS devices.

This access was exclusively reserved for Apple Pay, Apple’s proprietary mobile payment service. Such restrictions, according to the Commission, stifled innovation and limited choices for users of iPhones.

The investigation revealed that by limiting access to NFC technology, Apple had effectively hindered the ability of other mobile wallet developers to compete on a level playing field.

This lack of competition not only affected the variety of payment solutions available to consumers but also potentially impacted the development of new and innovative features in mobile payment technology.

Impact on consumers and the market

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The decision to open up NFC access is expected to have a wide-ranging impact on the mobile payments market. For consumers, this means a greater array of choices when it comes to mobile wallet applications, potentially leading to better services and more competitive pricing.

Users will no longer be restricted to using Apple Pay for contactless payments and can explore other options that may better suit their needs.

For developers and third-party service providers, this move represents a significant opportunity. They can now integrate NFC technology into their apps on iOS, creating more diverse and innovative payment solutions. This could foster a new wave of competition and technological advancement within the industry.

The broader market implications could also be profound. Increased competition typically drives innovation, and with more players able to utilize NFC technology on iOS, the pace of development in mobile payment services could accelerate.

This could lead to the introduction of new features, enhanced security measures, and improved user experiences across various payment platforms.

European Commission to keep a close watch

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While the European Commission’s decision marks a significant milestone, ensuring compliance will be critical. The Commission will likely keep a close watch on Apple’s implementation of this change to ensure that third-party providers do indeed receive fair and effective access to NFC technology.

Furthermore, this decision could set a precedent for how dominant tech companies interact with third-party developers and manage their proprietary technologies.

It underscores the importance of maintaining competitive markets and fostering innovation through fair business practices.

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